How to Farm Pigs - Feeding


While much of the information will be applicable everywhere, please be aware that every country has its own rules regarding feeding animals, e.g. food waste. You must ensure your practices are in line with official regulations in your own region.

Good feed is necessary for growth, body maintenance, and the production of meat and milk. You can use locally available feeds that are less expensive but can be nutritionally complete when properly prepared. In fact, pigs can be fed well using only kitchen scraps from a family’s household. The nutritional needs of pigs can be divided into six categories or classes. These are water, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

What can you feed your pig?

  1. Commercially prepared swine rations from grain, fruit, and vegetable from markets
  2. Commercial Feed
  • Vegetable, fruit, or bread scraps that have been not in contact with animal products or by-products if they are properly cooked
  • Restaurant leftovers, food transporter, and disposers of food waste products if they are properly cooked.
  • Forest Products including wild vegetables, wild bananas, wild cola – cassia, yam, forage grasses, etc. if they are properly cooked.
  • Alcohol distilling residues: local alcohol can be made from millet, rice, maize, sweet potato, banana, etc. if they are properly cooked.

What you shouldn’t feed to your pig?

  • Any meat products: includes pies, sausage rolls, bacon and cheese rolls, pizza, salami, and other delicatessen meats and table scraps without proper cooking and screening.
  • Any carcass or part of a carcass of any mammal or bird (raw and uncooked). This includes any meat blood, offal, hide, or feathers. Pigs that feed on carcasses are also at risk of contracting diseases that are contagious to humans.
  •  Any fish products and bones.
  • The excreta (droppings) of any mammal or bird
  •  Any substance that has come into contact with a prohibited substance via collection, storage, or transport in a contaminated container, such as meat trays, takes away food containers.
  • Household, commercial or industrial waste, which includes restaurant waste that hasn’t been properly cooked and screened.

Formulation feed

Creep Feed is the baby piglets’ first and most important dry food. It contains 20% protein that is highly fortified with milk by-products and is available in small, chewable, highly palatable pellets for easy digestion. A combination of protein source, milk replacer, vitamins, amino acids, and rich feed ingredients makes this complete feed the ideal start for young healthy piglets. Feed ingredients include corn, soya bean meal, barley, wheat bran, vegetable protein, oilseeds extracts, and fatty acids, feed phosphate, pig vitamins, and trace minerals.

Creep feed (about 20g per piglet per day) or a good homemade mixture with fine rice bran, broken rice, and milled maize grains. Clean drinking water must always be available. Feeds should meet the animal’s needs for maintenance, growth, and reproduction. Good pig feed contains sufficient energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins. Rice bran, broken rice, maize, soya beans, cassava, vegetables, and distillers’ residues are often used in pig feed.

Distillery waste is much appreciated in traditional pig husbandry, especially for pigs. It is advisable, however, not to give this high-valued feed to pregnant and lactating sows or to piglets and weaners, simply because of the alcohol content in the waste. Leucaena and Acacia are traditional, locally available tree crops, and the leaves are rich in protein. After drying, they can be mixed and fed to pigs with other feeds.

Traditional Feed Processing
Different feeds are mixed and boiled to make pig feed more palatable. There are 2 types of traditional processing:
•    Mixing all the different feeds together (rice bran, broken rice, crushed maize and soya, dried legume leaves, etc.) in proportion and giving it directly to the pigs.
•    Cooking the different raw materials together to improve digestibility, and to break down toxins from some feeds such as raw cola-cassia, banana stem, maize and soya grains, beans, kitchen waste, forage crops, and similar.


Feeding Alcohol Distilling Residues
Local alcohol can be made from millet, rice, maize, sweet potato, bananas, and similar. Most popular for pig feeding is distillery wastes from millet. It should be mixed with other feeds such as rice bran and broken rice/maize.

Distillers’ residues can be fed to fattening pigs, but not to pregnant or lactating sows. Yet, these animals require a high quality of feed and therefore distillery waste needs to be replaced by other high-quality feed such as commercial feeds. Distillers’ residues can be fed to fattening pigs, but not to pregnant or lactating sows. Yet, these animals require high quality of feed and therefore distillery waste needs to be replaced by other high-quality feed like commercial feeds.
Daily Feed Requirements
Dry/pregnant Sows and Gilts: Dry sows and gilts require 2.5kg a day of sow and weaner meal. Give an extra 1kg/day one week before serving gilts and sows and one week after service. Give lactating sows 2.5 kg a day of sow and weaner meal for maintenance and 0.25 kg a day extra for each piglet being suckled.
Boars: Give boars 2.0 kg a day. If the boar is regularly used increase this to 2.5 kg.
Piglets: Give creep pellets 0.5 - 1.0 kg a day from day 7 up to weaning time (21 days) per piglet. The feed should be mixed with sow and weaner meal the last one week before weaning.

Feeding of Growing and Finishing pigs
 Pigs weaned at 3 - 5 weeks of 11 - 13 kg body weight should continue being fed on the starter diet until they reach 18 kg live weight. Pigs weaned at 7 weeks or older may be switched gradually to sow and weaner diet.
For growing or finishing pigs all ration changes should be made gradually. If this is not possible the feeding level of the new diet should be low until the pigs become accustomed to it.

Where post-weaning scours are a major problem, restricted feeding during the first week after weaning may reduce the incidents of scours. For treatment in case of an outbreak of scouring, medication through drinking water is preferable since sick pigs go off feed.
NB: When feeding animals any sudden changes can lead to loss of production. Thus feed changes should be as gradual as possible.

Feeder Trough Size
The feeding trough should be firmly anchored to the floor to prevent overturning and wasting of feed. Good pig appetite is important. Pigs will eat more fresh clean feed than feed that is contaminated, stale, or moldy. To ensure proper intake of nutrition clean feed troughs daily. Sufficient feeder space is necessary so that each pig can eat what it wishes every day. On many farms feed waste is 15% or more, but it should be avoided as much as possible.

Pigs must also be fed on time since it makes them familiar with the feeding regime. Pigs need to be fed according to their sizes and ages. Troughs must be anchored so they cannot be turned over.

Drinkers
The feeding trough can also be used to supply water. At large farms, automatic drinkers are used (called bowls or nipples).

All pigs need sufficient clean drinking water.
A pregnant sow requires 10 - 12 liters of water per day.
A lactating sow requires 20 – 30 liters of water per day.
A growing pig requires 6 - 8 liters of water per day.
A boar requires 12 - 15 liters of water per day.
By not providing enough water for your pigs you will reduce their daily feed intake. Ample clean water must be available for your pigs to drink at all times.


Edited by

Thandiwe Ncube

Pig Feeds

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